ESOL is the acronym for English for Speakers of Other Languages and ESL is the acronym for English as a Second Language. These two terms are interchangeable and are also in the same field as TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). All of these terms represent the industry of teaching the English language to those who aren’t native English speakers.
The majority of English teaching work can be found on online jobs boards such as the below:
You’ll need to register as a job seeker and then you can view and apply for positions. Each job will have specific requirements in terms of education, qualifications, experience, etc. so make sure you read through these before submitting your application.
If you fit the requirements of the role, you’ll need to upload your CV/resume and complete the online application form, usually explaining what’s made you want to teach English abroad. Once the organisation/school you’re applying to have reviewed your application, they’ll get back to you (normally within a couple of weeks) to let you know whether you’ve been successful in progressing on to the next stage of the application.
If you have been successful, you will normally be asked to schedule a Skype/phone interview so that your prospective employers can see what you’d be like in front of a class. They will then let you know whether or not you’ll be offered the position and you may be asked to provide proof of identity so that they can verify that you qualify for the necessary visa.
However, before you do any of this, you’ll need to complete a TEFL course to prepare you for teaching.
A TEFL course is a course designed to prepare people for teaching English abroad. It usually covers topics such as lesson planning, managing a classroom, teaching young learners, teaching grammar, etc. so that even if you haven’t had any prior teaching experience, you can walk into a classroom ready to teach on your first day.
The vast majority of employers will ask for at least 120 hours of TEFL training before they will consider offering you a position. It is possible to obtain English teaching work without completing a TEFL course but your salary may be considerably lower, you may be asked to work on an illegitimate visa and you may only be able to teach in very few countries and schools. So, it’s always best to complete a TEFL course to ensure you are protected and earning as much as possible.
You won’t need to speak any language other than English in order to get an ESOL/ESL job in Europe or anywhere else in the world. However, it could be beneficial for you to learn the basics of the language of the country where you are planning to teach to help you settle in.
Anybody can take a TEFL course and you don’t need any prior qualifications or experience to do so. Although, when you come to look for work, some countries specify that you’ll need a bachelor’s degree to get a work visa. These are countries such as China, Vietnam, Thailand and Japan (amongst others). If you don’t hold a bachelor’s degree, there are still plenty of countries where you can teach without a degree such as Spain, Cambodia, Mexico and Argentina (amongst others).
If you’re looking to teach in Europe and you’re an EU native, you can teach in any country within the European Union without any restrictions on your visa. This essentially means that you won’t need a bachelor’s degree. If you aren’t an EU native, you may find it more difficult to be able to find a teaching job in Europe but it certainly isn’t impossible.
Depending on which country in Europe you want to teach in and which country your passport is from, there are specific visas and / or programmes you’d need to apply for. For example, Americans and Canadians wanting to teach in Spain can apply for the Auxiliares de Conversacion Program which places language assistants in public schools for a period of 8-9 months.
In short, it’s definitely a case of being flexible about where you want to teach and doing as much research as possible around visas. It’s also worth bearing in mind the visa regulations and legislation is consistently changing so something that may have not been possible for you to do a couple of years ago, may now be an option and vice versa.
Europe is and always has been a sought-after destination so by nature, it’s not going to be as easy to find work there as say, Southeast Asia or South America, but it’s certainly worth the effort!
How much you can earn depends on a few factors: what qualification level you’re at (i.e. degree, masters, TEFL, CELTA, DELTA), which country you’re teaching in, what type of school / organisation you’re teaching at, etc. In general, you can expect to earn a higher salary teaching in the locations such as the Middle East, Europe, Japan and South Korea, and a lower salary in South American countries. Click here to view each the average salary for the most popular ESOL / ESL countries.
Online teaching is a popular way to earn money either without having to travel or as a way to fund your travels and there are plenty of jobs to go around. You can find online ESOL/ESL jobs on the same jobs boards as mentioned above or you can work freelance and advertise online to find students.
All you need in order to teach online is a 120+ hours TEFL qualification, a laptop/computer, a webcam and a microphone so it’s relatively simple to get yourself set up and start conducting classes. If you choose to work freelance, you can set your own rates and choose your hours of work whereas, you could work for a language school where you’d be paid a set amount per lesson and given a set number of hours per week to teach. However, with a language school, you wouldn’t have to advertise to find students as they would be provided for you, so there are pros and cons to both.